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4A high school football preview: Box Elder and Maple Mountain look to prevail in a battle of equals


Box Elder (6-5) at Maple Mountain (6-5)

4A state tournament quarterfinals

Friday 4 p.m.

Parry’s Power Guide: Box Elder by 6

All-time series: Box Elder leads 1-0

Coach vs. coach: Box Elder’s Robbie Gunter leads Maple Mountain’s Brad Burtenshaw, 1-0

Last meeting: Oct. 26, 2012 – Box Elder 20-0, 4A first round at Maple Mountain

SPANISH FORK — For schools that geographically speaking are fairly far apart, 111 miles separate the two educational institutions, the Box Elder and Maple Mountain football teams have a great deal in common, statistically speaking at least.

The Bees and Golden Eagles, foes in the upcoming 4A quarterfinal game to be held Friday afternoon at Maple Mountain High School, have both been on tears as of late, with Box Elder victorious in four of its last five games, while Maple Mountain is undefeated since the Sept. 23, a stretch that amounts to a six-game winning streak.

That is merely the tip of the iceberg, however, as far as the similarities go. The Bees are rated as the 17th best offense at the 4A level, while the Golden Eagles come in at 19, and both teams boast top-10 defenses.

The starting quarterbacks, Dylan Rodriguez (Box Elder) and Tyson Denison (Maple Mountain), have each thrown for over 1,350 yards, and their top receiving targets, Zach Gunn and Dawson Beutler have each recorded over 350 yards receiving.

The top tacklers on both teams, Brock Hardy (Bees) and Garred Blanthorn (Golden Eagles) have racked up 91 and 85 tackles respectively and both Jeremy Kaleikini and Peyton Pond have snagged at least three interceptions.

There certainly are differences, as the Bees have found more success through the air while the Golden Eagles have secured the majority of their scores on the ground, but all that is to say that you would be hard pressed to find a more evenly matched contest.

“I kind of feel like we are similar teams,” Maple Mountain head coach Brad Burtenshaw said. “They have a very athletic quarterback who doesn't t make a lot of mistakes. They hold onto the ball for a long period of time. They are a smart team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and I feel like for the past couple of weeks we have been able to do that also. Both defenses are pretty good too. I just hope we can continue our strong play and have a good showing.”

The teams have met only once in their history, a 2012 meeting that ended in a Box Elder victory, and that lack of familiarity will definitely play a role.

“They look amazing on film. They are big, strong and athletic,” Box Elder head coach Robbie Gunter said when asked about scouting Maple Mountain. “But we don’t really know much about them. And at this point in the year we feel that it is really more about us anyway. We have to be able to execute what we do, and we are really focused on trying to improve ourselves and be the best we can be.”

Because of the striking similarities between the two sides, both coaches agreed that avoiding mistakes and coaxing them out of the opposition will be the major deciding factor in the game.

“Really it’s going to be mistakes. We don’t make a lot of mistakes and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. We have to keep doing what we have done that got us here and take advantage of the opportunities that we are given. It’s a great opportunity to play in the playoffs. We need to take advantage of it and enjoy the moment,” Burtenshaw said.

For his part, Gunter added that, “We just have to play great team football. We are excited to be in it. It’s the playoffs.”

Box Elder statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 24.0 ppg (17th in 4A)

Scoring defense: 19.6 ppg (8th in 4A)

Passing leader: Dylan Rodriguez (104-191, 54.5%, 1,358 yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Kole Evans (157 carries, 770 yards, 5 TDs), Dylan Rodriguez (173 carries, 448 yards, 5 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Zach Gunn (26 rec., 371 yards, 5 TDs), Traycer Wilson (16 rec., 296 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Brock Hardy (91 tackles), Porter Hodgson (80 tackles), Jeremy Kaleikini (64 tackles)

Sack leaders: Jackson Roubidoux, Garrett Housley (4 sacks)

Interception leaders: Jeremy Kaleikini (4 INTs)

Maple Mountain statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 20.0 ppg (19th in 4A)

Scoring defense: 15.0 ppg (3rd in 4A)

Passing leader: Tyson Denison (129-230, 56.1%, 1,372 yards, 10 TDs, 8 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Garred Blanthorn (99 carries, 514 yards, 11 TDs), Zach Mower (34 carries, 214 yards, 1 TD)

Receiving leaders: Dawson Beutler (19 rec., 334 yards, 6 TDs), Brooks Oberhansley (13 rec., 201 yards, 2 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Garred Blanthorn (85 tackles), Zach Mower (68 tackles)

Sack leaders: Garred Blanthorn, Zach Mower (7.5 sacks)

Interception leaders: Peyton Pond (3 INTs)

Felts Facts for Box Elder High School

All-time record: 559-332-25 (100 years)

Region championships: 35 (1919, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966 co, 1968, 1982, 1983 co, 1984 co, 1992 co, 1995, 1996, 2001 co, 2003, 2004 co, 2010 co)

Playoff appearances: 60

Current playoff appearance streak: 7 (2010-2016)

All-time playoff record: 43-51-1

State championships: 8 (1926, 1928, 1935, 1945, 1946, 1946, 1957, 1960, 1995)

State championship record: 6-10-1

Most played rivalry: 98 meetings with Logan dating back to 1919. Box Elder leads 62-33-3.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Box Elder meeting Bear River 95 times is the longest uninterrupted active rivalry in state history, having been played every season since 1923. The winner has taken home a traveling trophy, the Golden Spike, since 1959. ... Box Elder holds the record for most consecutive undefeated, untied regular seasons with four (tied with two others). The Bees didn’t lose a regular-season game from 1933 through 1936. … Joe Call gained 593 all-purpose yards in a contest in 1925, a single-game record that remains one of the oldest individual state records

Felts Facts for Maple Mountain High School

All-time record: 39-48 (8 years)

Region championships: 0

Playoff appearances: 5

Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2016)

All-time playoff record: 1-4

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-0

Most played rivalry: 9 meetings with Salem Hills. Salem Hills leads series 5-4.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Eight schools have perfect records in overtime, but Maple Mountain, 3-0, has the most OT wins of that select group.